NAPLES — The Gordon River Greenway Park is no longer Collier County’s top priority on the a list of enhancement projects that could receive $800,000 in federal funding over the next two years.
Instead, the Colllier County Metropolitan Planning Organization on Friday moved the Marco Island Linear park trail project to the top of its list.
MPO members said their reason for moving the Marco project from fourth on the list to first was public safety.
The linear park trail from San Marco Road to Andalusia Terrace would provide connectivity between city facilities, Mackle Park, a racquet center, the library and a new museum. The trail would include bicycle and pedestrian enhancements. Ultimately, it would provide a safe means of transportation especially for children who frequent Mackle Park.
The $400,000 Gordon River Greenway request for enhancement funds would have built boardwalks along the river in downtown Naples. The total cost of the Gordon River project is estimated at $14.1 million.
“In my opinion, the sidewalks and safety trumps recreation,” Naples Councilwoman and MPO member Dee Sulick said during Friday’s meeting.
Over the next two years, the county will receive about $800,000 in federal enhancement funding. The funds, which must pass through FDOT, are made available for projects that expand transportation choices and enhance the transportation experience.
Currently, there is a tremendous amount of traffic around the Mackle Park area, said Marco Island City Council Chairman William Trotter, who serves on the MPO.
With the addition of the off-street trail, Trotter said a lot of foot traffic would be taken off the road.
Collier Commissioner Donna Fiala motioned to make the Marco Island linear park trail project, which would cost $209,000 to build, to the top ranking.
The MPO voted 4-3 to approve the proposed changes to the transportation enhancement projects list.
The Gordon River park fell to fourth on the priority list.
“I’m disappointed,” Naples Mayor Bill Barnett said, adding that the Gordon River Greenway Park has been on the drawing board for years.
FDOT asked the MPO to rank the enhancement priorities, but not based on cost.
“It gives the department and the MPO a bit more flexibility using funding for enhancements that fiscal year at the MPO’s choice,” said Debbie Tower, spokeswoman for FDOT.
Chairman Frank Halas questioned if there was a possibility of additional funding for the projects.
FDOT District 1 Secretary Stan Cann said he wasn’t aware of additional funding.
However, four of the projects could qualify for FDOT’s stimulus funding.Those include the sidewalks at three schools and the Marco Island linear park trail, according to officials.
The county expects to get $4.7 million from the federal government for infrastructure improvements. About $40.4 million would go to enhancement projects throughout the state.
The rest of Collier County’s top five priorities:
2. Gulfview Middle School sidewalk- a Safe Routed Schools Project. Estimated cost of construction is $383,000.
3. Lake Park Elementary School sidewalk- a Safe Routed Schools Project. Construction cost is $218,000.
5. Riverside Filter Marsh Project, which includes re-routing water flows to the south and east through a filter marsh pump station. Construction cost is $200,000.